First there are the girls, or the Devils as they call them. They are all young and good looking and dressed a little, well sexy. Their uniforms include horns and sequined skirts that are (ahem) pretty short. When a customer leaves the shop, they call out “have a naughty day” and smile so sweetly you’d think they were angels instead.
Then there are the doughnuts they serve. These miniature pillowy pastries are like a cross between a donut and a funnel cake and are made to order on a rare automatic machine that can pump out up to 2,400 donuts an hour. However, this machine is set on the slowest cycle to keep the doughnuts it makes fresh and consistent. They are served soft and still warm, in a bag with a generous dusting of “it’s snowing in hell” powdered sugar or “sweet sinners” cinnamon sugar, or in a take-out box with a lavish drizzle of icing. A dozen will cost you $6 and two dozen, $11. They are indeed as I’m told, “sinfully delicious” and after surprising my friends one day with an order of them, they disappeared within seconds. You want to eat them when they are still hot. (Even I was guilty of indulging in a few myself).
“There are maple, glazed, peanut butter, strawberry, lemon, chocolate, vanilla and we are always adding other fresh new flavors. We also want to have more kid friendly options in the future like adding sprinkles and doing a unicorn doughnut” owner Amy Benson tells me, “but right now the peanut butter and strawberry together is really good. It’s just like a PB and J.”
And then there’s the owners, Amy from Florida and her husband Jay Camputzano from Mexico. The couple met while living in Houston, Texas, and moved to Key West two years ago. Their enthusiasm is obviously conveyed by their mile-aminute talk and matching bright-eyed looks. I can hardly keep up with them as they discuss with me their vision and all the hard work they have put into this creative concept. As the successful owners of a jewelry store, Amy and Jay wanted to take their acquired business skills into the food industry for the very first time when the space next door to their current location opened up after Hurricane Irma. They weren’t ready for it, but they knew that the space wouldn’t last long. Someone would snatch it up soon. They had an idea brewing, but it had yet to find its personality. So, they started construction at the end of last year while also choosing a name and opened on April 23. At first, they thought of calling it Disco Donuts and then decided against it when they discovered that there was already a doughnut shop with that name.
But they didn’t just want to open any old doughnut shop. They wanted to start a trademark, something that people would remember. Hence the Devil girls and the cheeky greetings. Everything from the logo to the color scheme has been carefully researched and selected. Using Hooters as an example, they emphasize to me their hope of turning Devilish Donuts into a franchise. The actual marketing of their brand is just as important to them as the making of their doughnuts.
“It’s very novelty,” Jay says. “We even sell the devil horns and short skirts and we’ve seen locals wearing them around town.”
As the hometown of that week-long dress-up party you may have heard of called Fantasy Fest, this is an idea that definitely reflects the spirit of Key West. It’s a little bold, it’s a little playful and it’s unapologetically different.
They are quick to point out that their doughnut shop is nothing like the other popular doughnut shop just a few blocks down the road. Instead of a sit-down environment, they are selling a “more fast paced in and out” experience. At their establishment there is only but a small counter and nowhere to sit. It’s grab and go. There is also no coffee although you can get one at the Starbucks next door. One shop sells gourmet, classic and inventive doughnuts and the other sells tiny “hot and ready” doughnut rings like glorified versions of fairground food. That is, if fairground food was made with love from scratch. They’ve got that nostalgic flavor to them, like they taste like something you’ve had before when you were young. Really, the only thing that the two have in common is that both places prepare everything from scratch.
And if that’s not enough. they are also working on obtaining their beer and wine license so that they can offer pairings like strawberry doughnuts with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.
Located in a high traffic neighborhood at the intersection of Duval Street and Front Street in the same building as the Tervis store and the Spice and Tea exchange, means that the couple currently receives a lot of cruise ship visitors but they ultimately hope to make Devilish Donuts a Key West tradition.
“We are extremely local friendly.” Jay adds.
Devilish Donuts is open every day from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. or until they sell out of their last batch. ¦
431 Front Street www.devilishdonuts.com